Directed by Steve McQueen
In a bizarre turn of events, the 21-year-old feminist blogger considers one of her favorite films to be a movie about a sex addict who uses women just for his pleasure and has incestuous feelings towards his sister... I know, it's bizarre.
But there's something about Shame that continues to draw me back in. Every time I watch it I find something new and beautiful in it. The film stuns with gorgeous cinematography; it has an unconventional style to it, which, in a way, makes the film slightly easier to digest. The editing of the film, intertwined with its emotional score, really evokes a strange set of feelings within the viewer they probably didn't know they had. But I think what keeps me coming back to this film time and time again is the complexity of the characters. Abi Morgan and Steve McQueen have written such dynamic and raw characters that each time I watch this film I feel like I understand them a little more, but also a little less.
Michael Fassbender and Carey Mulligan give tour de force performances in this film that are grossly underrated. Fassbender, in particular, conveys so much feeling and emotion in so little. His performance is heartbreaking, and he makes you feel sympathy for a character that would otherwise disgust you. He's so captivating and raw in this role that I think he is the only actor who could have done the character justice. Personally, I think this is one of Fassbender's greatest roles, and it is highly under appreciated in his filmography.
But I think what really draws me back to this film is the statement it makes. A signature of McQueen's films is social issues. The three films that McQueen has made have all been centered around a prominent social issue in society: nationality, justice, addiction, loneliness, racism. He doesn't make films for entertainment. He makes films to make a statement, to get a reaction from his audience, to make them see the world from an unpopular perspective. McQueen pushes the bounders of his films not to be vulgar or obscene, but to make an impact, to remind the audience that their world isn't the whole world. To me, this is what filmmaking should be about. Shame is bold and daring; it wasn't made to make money at the box office or to win the audience's favor (trust me, it did neither of those things). McQueen doesn't make films to be enjoyable; you're not supposed to enjoy his films. You are supposed to leave his films feeling something for the protagonist and his cause; you're meant to leave a McQueen film looking at the world differently. Shame, for me at least, achieved that goal.
There is a lot more to Shame than the labels the media has unjustly given it. Yes, it may be a bit extreme, but that's McQueen's style. His films are bold and controversial. He's creating a conversation about the world we live in rather than just adding to the noise of insipid movies. And I respect him for that.